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Ann Surg. 2000 Aug;232(2):233-41.

Incidence of tracheal stenosis and other late complications after percutaneous tracheostomy.

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Trauma Division, Department of Surgery, East Texas Medical Center, Tyler, Texas, USA.



To determine the incidence of tracheal stenosis, voice and breathing changes, and stomal complications after percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT).


From December 1992 through June 1999, 420 critically ill patients underwent 422 PDTs. There were 340 (81%) long-term survivors, 100 (29%) of whom were interviewed and offered further evaluation by fiberoptic laryngotracheoscopy (FOL) and tracheal computed tomography (CT). Tracheal stenosis was defined as more than 10% tracheal narrowing on transaxial sections or coronal and sagittal reconstruction views. Forty-eight patients agreed to CT evaluation; 38 patients also underwent FOL. CT and FOL evaluations occurred at 30 +/- 25 (mean +/- standard deviation) months after PDT.


Twenty-seven (27%) patients reported voice changes and 2 (2%) reported persistent severe hoarseness. Vocal cord abnormalities occurred in 4/38 (11%) patients, laryngeal granuloma in 1 (3%) patient, focal tracheal mucosal erythema in 2 (5%) patients, and severe tracheomalacia/stenosis in 1 (2.6%) patient. CT identified mild (11-25%) stenosis in 10 (21%) asymptomatic patients, moderate (26-50%) stenosis in 4 (8.3%) patients, 2 who were symptomatic, and severe (>50%) stenosis in 1 (2%) symptomatic patient. Ten patients (10%) reported persistent respiratory problems after tracheal decannulation, but only four agreed to be studied. Two patients had moderate stenosis, and one had severe stenosis. One patient's CT scan was normal. No long-term stomal complications were identified or reported.


Subjective voice changes and tracheal abnormalities are common after endotracheal intubation followed by PDT. Long-term follow-up of critically ill patients identified a 31% rate of more than 10% tracheal stenosis after PDT. Symptomatic stenosis manifested by subjective respiratory symptoms after decannulation was found in 3 of 48 (6%) patients.

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